Grable, Betty

Betty Grable

Born: December 18, 1916, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: July 2, 1973, Santa Monica, California

Born Ruth Elizabeth Grable, her stage name was Betty Grable. She was a child star who grew up to have the million dollar legs and had the highest salary of her era. She was married and divorced to actor Jackie Coogan and bandleader Harry James.

From the 1935 Lawlor Professionals:
Betty Grable is listed in this Lawlor Professional School casting book under “Some Stars who have attended our School.”

The following occurred in 1929 when Betty was 13 years old:

“In her first screen appearance in the quickie Let’s Go Places, she danced in the chorus, made up in blackface. Later that year she served as a standby double for Mary Pickford in Kiki. At the same time, Betty attended Le Conte Junior High School, rather desultorily. Billie [Betty’s mother] transferred her suddenly to Lawlor’s Professional School for Children, then an unaccredited school, dismissing the warnings of her neighbors on Hollywood’s Alexandria Street. Billie huffed, “It doesn’t matter. Betty’s going to be a star. What the hell’s she gonna do with a college education?” Whatever the merits of Lawlor’s $25-a-month educational program, it provided, at least, a social center for ambitious show-business mothers who attended the school regularly with their children. There they kept abreast of daily studio community. Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Jane Withers, and Gower Champion were among the hundreds of talented youngsters who attended the school with their mothers.

“Had Billie not falsified her age, Betty could have attended the studio-maintained school for professional children working on the lot. Betty’s contract listed her age as sixteen – the minimum age for working in the chorus, but overage for attending the studio school. Soon enough 20th Century-Fox discovered the discrepancy. All major studios were now being closely scrutinized by federal and state labor agencies for violations of child labor laws, and a routine search uncovered the truth about Betty’s age. She was immediately fired.”

– excerpted from Spero Pastos, Pin-Up: The Tragedy of Betty Grable. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1986), 20.

Links to other resources about Betty Grable:

Internet Movie Database listing:

Betty Grable photo gallery: